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    Four Things You Should Avoid Giving Your Kids When They're Fighting a Cold or Flu

    Four Things You Should Avoid Giving Your Kids When They're Fighting a Cold or Flu

    When your little one is under the weather with a cold or flu, you want to see them get better as soon as possible. But there are some treatments that may not be appropriate in children or help fight off a cold or flu.



    In this guide


    Antibiotics are used for treating bacterial infections. However, antibiotics are ineffective against the viruses that cause  colds or the flu.

    During a cold, mucus often starts clear and changes colour to green or yellow within a few days. In bacterial infections, the mucus may be thick or yellow; however the colour of mucus does not tell you if the infection is bacterial or viral.

    Taking antibiotics when we don't need them makes them less effective in the long run because the bacteria become resistant to the antibiotic.

    Cold medicine

    Cough and cold medicine, including decongestant tablets and nasal sprays are not recommended for use in children under six years of age.

    If your child is older than six, talk to your pharmacist or doctor before giving them cold medicines.

    Cough medicine

    An irritated windpipe or excess mucus could be the cause of cough when your child has a cold. Although it may be unpleasant to listen to, coughing has an important purpose: it clears mucus from your child's airway.

    You can offer your child frequent drinks of water to help keep their mucus runny and easier to cough up.

    If your child is older than six, talk to your pharmacist or doctor before giving them cough medicines.


    Breathing in the steam from a bowl of hot water is a traditional treatment for colds and is believed to help unblock nasal passages. However, it's too easy for children to be burnt or scalded, so this should be avoided in children.

    Instead, to help ease their symptoms you could try the following:

    • Offer plenty of fluids.
    • Use a humidifier (change the water daily)
    • Sit them in a steamy bathroom (under supervision)
    • Use a saltwater nasal spray or drops from your pharmacy

    Resting, drinking lots of water, and choosing effective medicine (such as those that relieve associated pain or fever) are appropriate relief options for your little child when they have a cold or flu.

    Colds and flu can cause inconvenience and distress during winter and other times of the year. It is important to choose treatments that can help relieve your child’s symptoms. Now that you've read up on what to avoid, check out our five tips on what you should do when your child is ill.



    Important information

    This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health-related matters, always consult your healthcare professional.

    In this guide